The Message Behind the Screen: Smith’s Mandatory Sexual Assault Online Training Program

Sara Del Villar '17 | Assistant Photo Editor Smith held a conference on Title IX early in the fall semester in the Campus Center.

Photo by Sara Del Villar ’17 | Smith held a conference on Title IX early in the fall semester in the Campus Center.

 

Anna Casasco ’19
Contributing Writer

On college campuses across the United States, sexual assault is an all too familiar issue. Smith has recently implemented a sexual assault online training program for both current and incoming students.

The program, called “Not Anymore,” is an online video-based program that will cover topics of consent, bystander intervention, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking and healthy relationships. The program integrates Smith’s gender-based and sexual misconduct policy, which prohibits the discrimination on the basis of sex in education program and activities.

An important note about the online program is its content warning system. This feature, activated by a simple click if the user feels triggered by the material, remains on until clicked off again. The program also allows the user to complete the training at their own pace. These two elements are important because some students may be victims of sexual assault and watching this mandatory video could be triggering.

Personally, I have mixed views on this mandatory program. Yes, it has good intentions – but so did the video on safe drinking that all the first-year students had to complete before arriving at Smith College. That mandatory video was almost completely disregarded afterwards, with students ignoring all the information the video included. In the end, drinking behavior seems to be informed through the media. This is also the case for sexual assault, as television content and current events on the issue provide information. Students are not totally clueless about what sexual assault is. The problem with the videos is that it is easy to simply mute it, move on and then answer the simple questions just so you can get the assignment over with.

Sexual assault is an important topic to talk about. All Smith students should learn more about it, especially because it is a problem here as well as at the surrounding colleges. However, mandatory videos are not the best way to discuss and learn about the issue of sexual assault. Instead, the administration should have a lecture hosted by Chief Diversity Officer Dwight Hamilton and Title IX Coordinator and Institutional Equity Administrator Sarah E. Harebo. They could talk about these issues, which would result in a discussion among students and throughout campus. Instead of simply creating a video and calling it a day – “Well, that’s it, we’re done!” – the Smith administration should let the student body know that they are there for those who want to discuss this topic, learn more and work with the community to create a safer campus for all.

Leave a Comment